Myanmar

Cyclone Nargis: three years on

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Three years ago on 2 May 2008, cyclone Nargis tore through Burma's remote Irrawaddy delta region killing 140,000 people, injuring 30,000 and devastating the lives of a further 2.4 million.

Here we look at how Christian Aid has made a real difference to thousands of those affected through £2.6 million that supporters and donors generously donated.

Building a better life

When cyclone Nargis hit Teik Gyi village in Kungyangon, 60-year-old Tin Win's house was completely destroyed.

The small plot of land that she used to farm to provide for her 16-year-old son's education was also devastated.

As a widow, Tin Win qualified for support from one of nine Christian Aid partners working on the response efforts.

After staying with her eldest daughter's family for more than two years, in January 2011 Tin Win finally moved into her own home built with Christian Aid's support.

She says that her new house is better than the hut she lived in before and it is strong enough to withstand cyclones and floods. There is also a new borehole nearby so she doesn't have to walk far for water.

'I never thought I would have a house again. Every night when I pray, I pray for all those who helped give me my house.'

Three years on, Tin Win is earning a living again from her trees and vegetables and, most importantly, she feels safe and secure.

How you've helped

Tin Win and her youngest son are among 1,134 families who now live in stronger homes equipped with sanitation and water conservation facilities thanks to Christian Aid's support.

Since the initial three month relief phase, Christian Aid has also helped 17,000 fishing and farming families recover from Burma's worst disaster in living memory.

Cash for work programmes, livelihood support and the replacement of lost livestock have helped 180,000 of the most vulnerable people build back stronger livelihoods which are much less vulnerable to severe weather events than before the disaster.

A further 1,500 households have received training in disaster management and preparedness, and five villages are regenerating their mangrove forests to protect themselves against future cyclones.

Christian Aid has also supported 1,136 people living with disabilities resulting from the cyclone through treatment, care and equipment.

What's more, many communities now have access to therapists who have been trained to help people cope with trauma and loss when catastrophes like this happen.

Working together

Another outcome of the work Christian Aid has supported is the improvement of cooperation between our local partners and the Burmese authorities.

Christian Aid partners have rapidly grown in confidence and expertise since the 2008 cyclone disaster.

This became evident in late 2010 when cyclone Giri struck. During that crisis, government authorities - usually distrustful of civil society - asked our partners to work with them to coordinate the response.

In just a few years, Christian Aid's support for the Nargis response has demonstrated how extreme devastation can be avoided in the future by building stronger communities and establishing better disaster management mechanisms which involve everyone - communities, local organisations and state authorities alike.